The European Union said that it would tighten security controls at its external borders of the passport-free Schengen zone including checks of its own citizens. This should include a thorough examination of EU passports as well as checks of their personal information with databases. France is moreover pushing for long-term systematic checks as well as a US-style Passenger Name Record (PNR) system, which involves collecting EU passenger data by the end of this year. This proposal is, however, controversial due to concerns about the protection of personal information.
The move is a natural follow-up to last Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, which claimed lives of 129 people. The Schengen area will be scrutinized after it was revealed that the mastermind behind the attacks was a Belgian national, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. France yesterday (19 November) confirmed that he was among those killed in a police raid on the outskirts of Paris. The EU commented that the ministers would “implement immediately the necessary systematic and coordinated checks at external borders, including on individuals enjoying the right of free movement”.
The European Commission believes that there is enough flexibility in the current Schengen legislation to introduce more systematic checks to boost border security. Some ministers, however, think that for the future, article 7 of the Schengen border code will have to be amended. The decision for stricter short-term controls is being taken today (20 November) at a crisis meeting, which was requested by France following the bloodshed last Friday.